NFL DFS – Main Slate Optimizer Groups & Stack Rankings – Week 9 – Sunday Update

This article focuses on building lineups with a quality foundation by utilizing the powerful Groups and Rules/Limits tools within the industry’s optimization tools. All of the concepts and pairings included below can be applied to hand-building as well. The goal is to create lineups that have high-scoring correlation and take advantage of combined outcomes within stacks while limiting the likelihood of building inefficient or negatively correlated entries for a full slate of NFL DFS lineups.

This video was made in a former life and features a detailed demonstration of how to apply these concepts in one leading optimizer tool: Fantasy Cruncher – How-To Video

All references to Sims were done via friends of the site:

Don’t miss the new Above/Below feature article for a few of our top picks

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Week 9 DraftKings & FanDuel NFL DFS Stack Rankings

The following stack rankings were created by pairing each team quarterback with his top three scoring options, whether they are three wide receivers, two wide receivers and a tight end, a wide receiver, tight end, and running back, or any viable combination. In some cases, an expensive running back, such as Tony Pollard, can push the overall price point of his team stack in the value rankings.


Week 9 DraftKings & FanDuel NFL DFS Stacks & Optimizer Groups


Rules and limits are powerful tools for lineup creation for NFL DFS where our primary focus is creating highly correlated lineups via stacking players from the same game. Lineups will typically be coordinated around the quarterback selection, which informs at least one pass-catcher choice, establishes a budget, eliminates a defense, and sets the tone for the lineup. We will typically look to correlate a quarterback and at least one of his pass-catchers in every lineup, with most of those including a skill player from the opposing team who will have a chance to support the stack in a high-scoring game that drives offense on both sides to create additional correlated scoring potential. Stacking multiple pass-catchers in the same lineup is a sound approach as well, though there are typically overall ceilings on how much volume is available at any given position. We do not typically include running backs who are not pass-catchers as priorities in NFL DFS groups, they typically stand alone with the selection of the quarterback-based stack informing remaining salary which then informs the running back selections. High-volume backs and pass catchers out of the backfield can be included in the groups utilized below, but it is frequently not necessary to do so with the very best players, they arrive in lineups without help.

The following rules and limits are typically applied in an optimizer’s Advanced Options menu. Notes are included to elucidate the reasons behind each rule and to explain what it does during the lineup creation process. These settings can typically be saved for re-use, which is highly recommended. Saving the Week 1 groups that will be created below is also a very good idea to save time with updates instead of recreation each week. These groups are created manually, but most optimizers include automated group creators that can help accelerate the curation process.

DraftKings + FanDuel Settings & Advanced Options

Unique Players Per Lineup– This setting forces the optimizer to utilize at least X new players who were not in Lineup 1 when it creates Lineup 2, and so on. It is recommended to utilize at least two, and more can be applied depending on the degree of differentiation desired within lineups.

Team Salary– a minimum or maximum salary spend can be applied here as needed, though this is not a part of the recommended process in this space as leaving salary on the table is an easy path toward creating unique lineups while not necessarily making a negative expected value play.

FLEX position– allows restrictions on what positions can be rostered at the FLEX spot. The only position to consider in this case is tight end, but that is something to be restricted at the individual level via Groups, rather than at the global level.

Global Exposure Settingallows caps on the maximum percentage of lineups a player can appear in within a given pool of lineup construction. This is a powerful tool for shaping lineups but if settings are too low attempts to build a full set will fall short due to a lack of available players, one of the most common errors in optimizer building. Most optimizers include the ability to calculate ownership caps continuously or at the end of the pool creation process. If caps are calculated continuously, a player with a 25% cap who is utilized in Lineup 1 will not be available for use again until Lineup 5 , we recommend turning OFF continuous calculation.

Randomness – provides a random multiplier to each player’s projected point total based on the set values. This is a valuable tool that helps differentiate lineups instead of simply creating them in order of highest median projected scores. Using some randomness for lineup generation is strongly recommended but the degree to which it is applied is down to personal preference, but 15-25% is fine to get started. We suggest heavier randomness to more event-based players like wide receivers while tracking volume-based positions like running backs more toward their median or ceiling projections.

DraftKings + FanDuel Team Stack Rules

This set of rules will force optimizers to build lineups with certain combinations. We are looking to stack at least one skill player, almost always a pass-catcher, with his quarterback while also playing a skill player from the opposing team in the lineup. The theory behind this build is that a high-scoring stack will require some response from the opposing team to deliver a ceiling score in most situations. When that is not the case, the team that is winning will simply slow down and run out the clock. Most optimizers utilize a “complete the sentence” approach for rule creation with selections from drop-down menus following a very straightforward logic. Exceptions to these rules can be added for specific teams and players on most optimizer products.

  • QB with at least one WR/TE from Same Team (note: It is fine to set this to two or to utilize two versions of this rule, one with WR/TE and one with RB/WR/TE, but we refine this via Groups)
  • QB with at least one RB/WR/TE from the Opposing Team (we typically prefer the pass-catchers but high-volume running backs can be effective here)
  • QB with at most zero DST from the Same Team (this is a personal preference; high-scoring teams and quarterbacks tend to leave their defenses on the field, exposing them to simple point-scoring negatives)

Limits & Custom Rules and Requirements

Limit rules can be applied to restrict certain combinations from coming together. This is powerful for limiting multiple running backs from the same team or getting overweight to a certain stack within a lineup.

  • Limit QB/RB/WR/TE from Same Team to three
  • Limit RB/WR/TE from the Same Team to one unless paired with QB from the Same Team OR the Opposing Team
  • Limit RB from Same Team to one (we also do this with WR in a separate rule that adds an “unless paired with QB or opposing QB” but it’s a personal preference for NFL DFS, we typically do not want two pass-catchers from the same team without their quarterback)

We will maintain the list of rules and limits throughout the season, with occasional tweaks, if needed. Each week sees yet another fresh crop of value plays as situations change and injuries create opportunities around the league. These changing roles and emergent value plays are accounted for in the process of creating these groups from week to week. After a large pool of lineups is created utilizing these groups, it is still of critical importance to filter them for factors including ceiling projections and leverage potential. These groups should help ensure that a highly correlated premium set of options that rotates through a variety of combinations is utilized to create the full lineup pool.

Sunday Updates

Any changes and recommended boosts to specific players will be provided in an early morning update each Sunday.

NFL DFS Week 8 Features & FREE Projections


Construction Concept

Team groups are built by utilizing the quarterback as the KEY player in group settings. The quarterback decision in each lineup is the driving factor in which stack is utilized in that lineup and which corresponding plays are then made to work within the structure and requirements. Built to specification, each team will have two groups, a team group, and an opponent group, both of which utilize the same quarterback as the key player. Each game will have a total of four groups. This is the best approach to truly capture the requirement of playing individual “run-back” plays from the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to include all of the skill players from a game in each quarterback’s group and rely on rules and limits to restrict any potential overflow. It is highly recommended to save the Week 1 groups as a foundation that will be updated for the rest of the season. The recommended groups will include skill players who have an active role in their offense and provide significant correlation with their quarterback’s scoring, often bell-cow running backs who do not specialize in the passing game will not be included in groups as they are projected highly and appear on their own in basically correct distributions, while also not always providing the strongest positive correlation plays. Stacking quarterbacks with pass-catchers and allowing running backs to fall into the lanes then created by settings, available salary, and randomness should create a well-distributed set of quality lineups. These groups are updated weekly to account for changes in utilization, schemes, injuries, target shares, and more.

Team Groups for DraftKings & FanDuel – Week 9

The goal is to create a large pool of well-built lineups that can be utilized in any large-field GPP contest. Our approach is to build far more lineups than needed and utilize a sorting table or sim process to filter to the best set of lineups for entries. The lineups created in these crunches should provide a broad distribution that includes some of the lower-owned high-upside skill players from each stack. Applying boosts is critical in pushing and pulling ownership to individual players within their team’s stacked lineups if they are appearing too much or too little.

The groups below are designed so that each quarterback will have two groups to create, one with his skill players and another with the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to add them all to one large group with an “at least three” and let rules and limits set things, but there is a more granular level of control in creating them separately.

Utilizing two groups also allows us to place running backs into the “run-back” position in certain teams while not including them in the primary stack for their team. This is useful when there is a situation with an extremely highly projected running back who does not necessarily fit into his team’s passing game. These players are threaded throughout the following construction recommendations.

Note for the Rotogrinders optimizer, we recommend trimming the automatically created groups that can be accessed under Team Groups, Opponent Groups, and Max Position Groups to match these groups for lineup building. We typically utilize the Stacks tab to enforce constructions as well, but a key requirement is missed in the automated groups. The Max Position groups need the manual addition of the running backs and tight ends to the group that is created with the wide receivers with a setting of max 1 and the team’s quarterback selected as a key player with the designation of using that group when the quarterback is NOT in the lineup. This is done to eliminate the possibility of three skill players from the same team appearing at running back, tight end, and wide receiver together without their quarterback involved. A simple limit of three players per team will keep things to just a quarterback with two skill players in stacks after that. Update: if one were to reset their saved settings on RG’s optimizer new options will reveal themselves, including thankfully a toggle to take care of this from the main build rules page. There is also a non-QB group with a max-1 setting that works better for this purpose because the toggle on the main page will limit stacks to just a 1-1 combination, seemingly as a bug.

Note for all optimizers the rules can be utilized to force bring-back plays in some sets of crunches and turned off for others as a global function instead of changing each group to “exactly one” bring-back play, wherever applicable, but it will apply to all teams.

Arizona Cardinals

Key Player: Clayton Tune (pick 139)

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Marquise Brown, Trey McBride, Rondale Moore, Keontay Ingram, Zach Pascal (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Amari Cooper, Jerome Ford, Elijah Moore, David Njoku

Lineup Notes: Joshua Dobbs was traded to Minnesota at the deadline, Kyler Murray is traveling with the team and is listed as questionable but expectations are that Tune will get this start. Michael Wilson is reportedly unlikely to play. Trey McBride and Marquise Brown are solid individual plays but this stack will be limited by the play of the quarterback, which is true across many teams this week. The Cardinals’ skill players may be best utilized as bring-back options against Browns stacks and as independent plays in other lineups this week.


Atlanta Falcons

Key Player: Taylor Heinicke

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, Van Jefferson, Jonnu Smith, Mack Hollins, KhaDarel Hodge

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: TJ Hockenson, Jordan Addison, KJ Osborn, Brandon Powell (large field)

Lineup Notes: Desmond Ridder was benched in favor of Heinicke for Week 9. Heinicke can deliver the ball downfield successfully but he has never been a top tier option. Top Falcons receiver Drake London is OUT for Week 9 and Kyle Pitts will likely operate as the team’s nominal number one in the passing game. Jonnu Smith has seen targets as the secondary tight end option, so he is likely to remain involved while Van Jefferson will be the top true wideout, with Hollins and Hodge in supporting roles and Hollins acting as a deep threat. The Vikings will be limited by their quarterback play, but they offer several solid bring-back options against Falcons stacks.


Baltimore Ravens

Key Player: Lamar Jackson

Setting: at most two (this will allow for ‘naked’ Lamar stacks if groups are used without additional rules to force stacks)

Team Group: Zay Flowers, Mark Andrews, Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Lineup Notes: It would be fine to include Kenneth Walker III as an additional bring-back option from the Seattle side, we are limiting his exposure in this role due to some coach-speak about added touches for fellow back Zach Charbonnet. There are good defenses on both sides of this matchup, while Vegas likes this game for scoring with a 44-point total and Baltimore as 6.5-point favorites, but there is a fair chance that fantasy scoring could be less distributed than it may seem. Lamar Jackson is an excellent individual option any given week, Flower and Andrews are by far his top to skill options. The Seahawks have solid bring-back receivers, but the Ravens pass defense is elite.


Carolina Panthers

Key Player: Bryce Young (2023 1st overall draft pick)

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Adam Thielen, DJ Chark Jr. (expected IN), Jonathan Mingo, Hayden Hurst, Chuba Hubbard

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs (expected IN), Alec Pierce

Lineup Notes: Hubbard is getting the nod over Miles Sanders as the team’s lead running back, he has moderate involvement in the passing game and can be left out of this group while being allowed to land in other lineups. Bryce Young is projecting well in our model for the level of play that we have seen from him to this point, there is potential for sneaky returns on Carolina investments. DJ Chark Jr. is expected to play after being questionable all week, he is a solid downfield threat with Adam Thielen as the primary weapon in the passing game and Jonathan Mingo operating as a solid value receiver. Hayden Hurst is a limited play at tight end, while Tommy Tremble may see a minor uptick in opportunities according to industry reporting. In a week in which many are embracing late round draft picks, we like the philosophy of taking a strongly-projected top pick from the same draft class at lower ownership at the quarterback position. Colts receiver Josh Downs is expected to play.


Chicago Bears

Key Player: Tyson Bagent (2023 undrafted D-II)

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: DJ Moore, Cole Kmet, Darnell Mooney, Tyler Scott, D’Onta Foreman

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, Rashid Shaheed, Juwan Johnson, Taysom Hill

Lineup Notes: Justin Fields is doubtful for Week 9. The Bears are another team expected to be operating with a backup in place, Tyson Bagent will be a potential limiting factor on DJ Moore’s upside and he will certainly impact the productivity of the down depth chart options like Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney. The Bears backfield is a bit of a multi-way situation with D’Onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson also sharing touches with Darrynton Evans last week, none of the running backs looks particularly appealing in this matchup, while Saints back Alvin Kamar is one of the premium positional options on the other side. Kamara has seen 30+ touches per game of late, he is a volume monster who is highly targeted in the passing game and the Saints are looking like a crucial stack once again this week, getting to shares of Bears receivers as bring-back plays is viable in Saints stacks, but not mandatory.


Cleveland Browns

Key Player: Deshaun Watson

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, David Njoku, Cedric Tillman (large field), Marquise Goodwin (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Marquise Brown, Trey McBride, Rondale Moore, Keontay Ingram

Lineup Notes: Running backs Jerome Ford, Kareem Hunt, and Pierre Strong Jr. were in a three-way split last week with Ford playing a bit hurt, the situation splits the carries somewhat in this week’s projections, limiting the ceiling of each running back in what would otherwise be a very strong spot against a weak Cardinals’ defense. The Browns stack will go as far as Deshaun Watson is able to take it, the quarterback projects well in his return to action and the Cardinals have been extremely vulnerable to the pass, this could be a solid get-right situation for Watson. Lead receiver Amari Cooper is the main target with David Njoku landing as a strong second. Njoku has seen increased targets each of the last two weeks, the talented tight end is a stronger option than Elijah Moore. Marquise Goodwin and Cedric Tillman will be acting as the third and fourth wide receiver options.


Dallas Cowboys

Key Player: Dak Prescott

Setting: at least one

Team Group: CeeDee Lamb, Tony Pollard, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup, Jake Ferguson, KaVontae Turpin (large field), Jalen Tolbert (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one (this can be set to at least one to ensure a bring-back play in a high-end game)

Opposing Group: AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, D’Andre Swift, Julio Jones, Oladmide Zaccheaus (large field)

Lineup Notes: The Cowboys are a top stack in their game against the Eagles, both sides of this game will be extremely popular but that is entirely justifiable and they should be included in lineups with differentiation points available in many place that work well to pay up to top options in this game. Dak Prescott is playing well this season, he lands with a strong projection in our model this week and his undeniable connection with CeeDee Lamb has a strong chance to provide fantasy scoring, with Lamb operating as WR1 by fantasy point projections on both sites this week. Brandin Cooks has been disappointing overall but he has a touchdown in each of the team’s two most recent games and he comes too cheap this week. Michael Gallup has been similarly lousy, Jake Ferguson is a highly targeted tight end who is involved in the red zone offense and both KaVontae Turpin and Jalen Tolbert can provide limited large field homerun play potential. Tolbert ran 15 routes and was targeted once in the team’s most recent game, Turpin was targeted twice on five routes run. The Eagles have premium bring-back weapons at every key position with both Brown and Smith as lead receivers, Swift as a strong running back play, and Dallas Goedert potentially landing as a leading tight end option against the Cowboys’ weakness against the position.


Green Bay Packers

Key Player: Jordan Love

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Aaron Jones, Luke Musgrave, Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Darrell Henderson Jr., Tutu Atwell, Tyler Higbee

Lineup Notes: the more expensive Romeo Doubs is slightly lower-projected than his counterpart Christian Watson in our model for Green Bay this week. Both receivers are good options in stacks with quarterback Jordan Love, who will be the determining factor in the success of the play. We prefer the receivers on their own as independent options, but a few stacks of Love +1 or +2 are not out of order. Aaron Jones has been limited and lousy through the first half of the season. Luke Musgrave is at a good value price at tight end and Jayden Reed has touchdown equity as an inexpensive wide receiver who has been heavily involved in the red zone offense for Green Bay. The Rams are playing backup Brett Rypien at quarterback but Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua are both solid bring-back options in any situation with their extreme target volume.


Houston Texans

Key Player: CJ Stroud (2023 pick 2)

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Nico Collins, Tank Dell, Dalton Schultz, Noah Brown

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Cade Otton, Rachaad White, Trey Palmer

Lineup Notes: CJ Stround lands as another quarterback that projects well for his value, despite the massive disappointment that resounded across the DFS industry in a highly-owned spot last week. Stroud joins Bryce Young as a more appealing option simply given his draft pedigree in a week in which signal callers who were drafted on the third day are in play for their respective teams. This would not be the case if Young and Stroud did not project well this week, but they happen to look like strong options, with Stroud ranking as QB8 by points and QB5 by value on DraftKings and landing 8/9 on the FanDuel slate. Stroud has solid weapons in Nico Collins and rookie Tank Dell, but Robert Woods will be absent again this week, which sends volume toward Noah Brown. Dalton Schultz is a tight end who has received targets in the red zone every week of the season with the exception of last week. The Buccaneers are a targetable defense, Stroud can succeed in this spot and Tampa Bay has capable bring-back options in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, with Rachaad White also playing a hefty role in the passing game. Dameon Pierce is out for the Texans, Devin Singletary will take the reins as the primary running back, he is playable but looks better independently than in stacks.


Indianapolis Colts

Key Player: Gardner Minshew II

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Michael Pittman Jr., Jonathan Taylor, Josh Downs (expected to play), Alec Pierce, Kylen Granson, Isiah McKenzie (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Adam Thielen, DJ Chark Jr.(expected to play), Jonathan Mingo, Hayden Hurst, Chuba Hubbard

Lineup Notes: Running back Jonathan Taylor is in a prime position for success against a Carolina rush defense that ranks 28th with 4.7 yards per rush attempt allowed on the season amounting to 139 yards and two touchdowns per game on the ground this season. Taylor played more than 60% of the team’s snaps last week, out-snapping talented counterpart Zack Moss, but Moss received a similar number of touches in the end. While Taylor played 41 snaps and carried the ball 12 times with one catch on two targets in Week 8, Moss had just one fewer carry and one fewer target, which he caught to match Taylor’s reception total in his 26 snaps. To a point, we care more about touches and involvement than snaps, blocking plays do not provide fantasy value, Moss remains viable in tournaments as a cheap low-ownership pivot. Josh Downs is expected to play, he is a strong second option in the passing game behind lead receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman saw 13 targets and hauled in eight of them for 40 yards and a touchdown in the team’s most recent game while Downs was targeted nine times for seven catches and 72 yards. Alec Pierce has been a strong downfield dart throw with a 14.4-yard ADOT, while Kylen Granson should outpace Drew Ogletree in opportunities at the tight end position. Adam Thielen is the top bring-back option from the other side of what could be a sneaky-good game for fantasy scoring.


Los Angeles Rams

Key Player: Brett Rypien (undrafted 2019)

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell, Tyler Higbee

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Aaron Jones, Luke Musgrave, Jayden Reed

Lineup Notes: Matt Stafford is not expected to play. Brett Rypien has made three NFL starts, throwing for four touchdowns and eight interceptions since signing as an undrafted free agent with the Broncos in 2019. Rypien has a career 5.9 yards per pass attempt, he could be a severely limiting factor for the typically extreme ceiling of Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua. Running backs Darrell Henderson Jr. and Royce Freeman slipped into a bit of a timeshare last week by snap count, but Henderson was still the lead option in touches with 15 on his 28 snaps while Freeman received nine carries in his 30 snaps and zero targets on 15 routes run. Tutu Atwell and Tyler Higbee have both slipped in volume since Kupp’s return but they are not bereft of touchdown-dependent potential. Higbee has not been targeted in the red zone since Week 6 and has seen just three opportunities inside the 20 yard line all year. Atwell got four targets last week after a reduction to just three over the previous two games combined.


Las Vegas Raiders

Key Player: Aidan O’Connell (2023 pick 135)

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, Jakobi Meyers, Michael Mayer, Hunter Renfrow (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Saquon Barkley, Wan’Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton

Lineup Notes: O’Connell is getting the start for the Raiders with interim coach Antonio Pierce choosing him over incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo. O’Connell failed to throw a touchdown pass but did have 238 yards on 24-39 passing in his Week 4 start, targeting beleaguered Davante Adams 13 times on 37 routes for 8 catches and 75 yards. Running back Josh Jacobs looks like a fantastic option this week against a weak Giants rush defense that ranks 29th with 4.8 yards allowed per rush attempt. New York has yielded 127 yards and 1.25 touchdowns to running backs per game this season. Jacobs is a strong option both in stacks and on his own in lineups. O’Connell is not a premium option but he is one of the better of the low-end quarterback selections simply on the strength of his targets and matchup. Davante Adams is a top option at WR, he ranks as WR5 on FanDuel scoring and WR6 on DraftKings. Jakobi Meyers is also highly projected, he lands as WR13 and WR14 from site to site. The Giants have one good bring-back option in Saquon Barkley, the receiving corps is a dart throws at best.


Minnesota Vikings

Key Player: Jaren Hall (2023 pick 164)

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Jordan Addison, TJ Hockenson, KJ Osborn, Brandon Powell

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, Van Jefferson, Jonnu Smith, Mack Hollins, KhaDarel Hodge

Lineup Notes: Jaren Hall is starting this week despite the team’s trade for Joshua Dobbs following the injury to Kirk Cousins. Hall is a strong-armed quarterback with accuracy concerns, he was taken with pick 164 in this year’s draft but he has solid downfield weapons with Jordan Addison and KJ Osborn at receiver and target monster TJ Hockenson providing a strong safety valve at the tight end position. Alexander Mattison will have a potentially rough day against Atlanta’s stout rush defense and the Falcons are also strong againt the pass, which could have a limiting impact on the rookie’s potential to deliver a strong fantasy game. Atlanta ranks 8th with 3.8 yards allowed per rush attempt and 7th against the pass with 6.1 yards per pass attempt, and they have allowed just one rushing touchdown all season.


New England Patriots

Key Player: Mac Jones

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Demario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Hunter Henry, Rhamondre Stevenson, Jalen Reagor (large field), Tyquan Thornton (large field), Kayshon Boutte (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Logan Thomas, Brian Robinson Jr.

Lineup Notes: Mac Jones has been demonstrably bad this season but he is facing a pass defense that ranks 30th with 7.5 yards allowed per pass attempt and 18 touchdowns on the season. The touchdown total is the highest of the week, with the Bears ranking second-worst with 17 pass touchdowns allowed on the season. Jones is pulling a bit of potential through our model, but he does not look like a priority play and he will be without strong options in the receiving group. Davante Parker is out for Week 8, Demario Douglas is expected to operate as the nominal top option, while JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jalen Reagor, Tyquan Thornton, and Kayshon Boutte are limited options from down the depth chart. The Commanders are a potentially underappreciated option again this week, the team has hung-in strong against better teams than New England and there is clear life in Sam Howell and the passing game. Howell is one of the stronger quarterbacks on the slate, the Patriots’ defense ranks 14th with 6.4 yards allowed per pass attempt while sitting second against the run, which could jam up Brian Robinson Jr as a bring-back value. Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson are the easy go-to options in that role.


New Orleans Saints

Key Player: Derek Carr

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, Rashid Shaheed, Juwan Johnson, Taysom Hill

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: DJ Moore, Cole Kmet, Darnell Mooney, Tyler Scott, D’Onta Foreman

Lineup Notes: the Saints are projected as one of the top stacks of the week with all of Derek Carr, Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, and Michael Thomas drawing very strong projections. The team adds tight ends Juwan Johnson and dynamic triple-threat Taysom Hill, who has been scoring points in the TE spot for DFS while doing his version of the Punt-Pass-Kick competition in throwing for yardage, running for yards and touchdowns, and catching a few passes in each of the last few games. Olave and Thomas are strong target options with heavy volume and opportunities in the red zone, while Rashid Shaheed is a deadly-good downfield weapon who deserves shares at a fairly good price, though he has climbed the ladder in both salary and popularity of late. DJ Moore is the premium bring-back option from Chicago. Saints running back Alvin Kamara is a very strong option both in stacks and on his own as an independent play. Kamara has seen 44 targets in the five weeks he has been back in action, catching 39 of them. He has also seen at least 17 carries in each of the last four games, with exactly 17 in the two most recent outings. Kamara will be popular but he is one of the top options of the week in a week during which we are seeking security of volume and a strong floor at the running back position, given the enhanced volatility of quarterbacks and stacks around the league in Week 9.


New York Giants

Key Player: Daniel Jones

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Saquon Barkley, Wan’Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton, Daniel Bellinger, Jalin Hyatt (large field), Isiah Hodgins (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, Jakobi Meyers, Michael Mayer, Hunter Renfrow (large field)

Lineup Notes: Saquon Barkley is the number one, two, and three option for the Giants, he has seen massive volume since his return to the team and he warrants shares both in any Giants stacks that are built and primarily on his own in other lineups. A pairing of Barkley and Alvin Kamara at the running back spot, while popular, will be a rock-solid approach to simply booking opportunities at the position. Barkley carried the ball a whopping 36 times for 128 yards in Week 9 with the Giants losing backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor early, he also drew five targets in the game. Daniel Jones is returning to action at quarterback this week, he has been completely awful all season, with the limited exception of a Week 2 game in which he threw for 321 yards and two touchdown passes, his only two touchdown passes of the season despite playing in five games. Jones has been out for three weeks and seems to have been aggressively returned from his neck injury, we have no enthusiasm for the play but the quarterback is drawing a playable projection and he has at least Barkley to work with, while Darren Waller is on the shelf. Without the top tight end in play the limited wide receivers will be exposed, Wan’Dale Robinson and Darius Slayton are the two most highly targeted options and the two stronger plays in a lousy group. Jalin Hyatt saw a minor uptick in opportunities playing with Tyrod Taylor because Tyrod Taylor is capable of letting a play develop down the field and then putting the ball there, a skill for which Daniel Jones has limited acumen. Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs are strong bring-back options and shares of Jakobi Meyers in that role are easy to justify as well. A two-headed RB approach with both Barkley and Jacobs in a lineup that does not include other pieces of this game is also viable, both running backs will touch the ball at least 20 times barring the unexpected, and they have strong touchdown and volume upside this week even head-to-head.


Philadelphia Eagles

Key Player: Jalen Hurts

Setting: at least one

Team Group: AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, D’Andre Swift, Julio Jones, Oladmide Zaccheaus (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: CeeDee Lamb, Tony Pollard, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup, Jake Ferguson, KaVontae Turpin (large field)

Lineup Notes: Jalen Hurts ranks as QB1 by fantasy points on both sites and the Eagles are the top stack of the week in the game with the highest total in Vegas. There is very strong potential for a shootout with good skill players at every position and two good quarterbacks in play, the obvious approach is the Eagles quarterback but both sides will demand shares. Dallas Goedert has the potential to provide a strong game, the Cowboys struggle against the tight end position and he is a premium option when he sees volume. AJ Brown has been one of the best receivers in football this year, he has six straight 100-yard games with a minimum of 127 yards and five touchdowns over the same span. Brown and DeVonta Smith are a very good 1-2 punch, Smith posted 99 yards and a touchdown on 7-7 receiving last week. Smith has a 12.1-yard ADOT on the season while Brown checks in at 13.2, they are both downfield weapons. Julio Jones and Olamide Zacchaeus are large field tournament dart throws with a bit of scoring potential, Jones caught one of two targets for just eight yards but he did score last week, while that performance alone is not enough the touchdown is encouraging and an additional two catches and some yards will pad things out nicely. The Cowboys are primed for bring-back shares and this is a game on which we would ensure that a few runs of lineups are created with a bring-back forced for both this group and the Prescott-based groups above.


Seattle Seahawks

Key Player: Geno Smith

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Kenneth Walker III, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jake Bobo (large field), Noah Fant

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Zay Flowers, Mark Andrews, Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor

Lineup Notes: The Seahawks would typically look like a good option on the experience of Geno Smith cast against the young quarterbacks playing this week alone, but they are facing a brick wall of a Ravens defense that is going to be problematic for fantasy scoring. This game has a solid total, but the Ravens are heavily favored and their defense ranks 1st against the pass with 4.6 yards allowed per pass attempt. The day could be brighter for Kenneth Walker III or Zach Charbonnet, who is expected to see a minor uptick in touches after posting 53 yards on just five carries last week while out snapping a banged-up Walker. Premium wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are the clear go-to pass-catchers against the Ravens, but their ceilings are probably limited, Jaxon Smith-Njigba has been restricted to limited ADOT routes when both Lockett and Metcalf are playing, and the team has a three-headed tight end situation that is impossible to play for DFS purposes. The Ravens are also facing good defense in a game that could play to the under, Lamar Jackson on his own is a strong option but he does not fit in a bring-back role, Zay Flowers and Mark Andrews are strong candidates for those shares.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Player: Baker Mayfield

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rachaad White, Cade Otton, Trey Palmer, Deven Thompkins

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Nico Collins, Tank Dell, Dalton Schultz, Noah Brown

Lineup Notes: Rachaad White has seen 13 targets over the last two games, he is very involved in the passing game and should be included in shares of Tampa Bay stacks. Trey Palmer saw six targets in the team’s most recent game, Deven Thompkins was untargeted on eight routes run, he saw three targets on 14 routes in Week 7 and four on 12 routes in Week 6. The team’s prime options are Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, with Evans leading the way to this point in the season. Baker Mayfield is looking like an oddly OK option, he projects in the middle of the quarterback board but he has solid weapons and is not limited by inexperience like so many other plays this week. With all of Evans, Godwin, and White in play, and a few additional tournament dart throws in Palmer and tight end Cade Otton, the Tampa Bay stack is not out of play and they have a good opponent for a potentially strong fantasy game with Houston on the other side and just a 2.5-point spread. Houston’s pass defense ranks 22nd with 6.7 yards per pass attempt but they are good against the run, ranking 5th with 3.6 yards per rush attempt, which suggests Tampa will take to the air as much as the opposing team that is facing their 25th ranked pass defense. This is a potentially sneaky game for DFS purposes, the total is just 40.5 but there are weapons and playable quarterbacks on both sides.


Washington Commanders

Key Player: Sam Howell

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Logan Thomas, Jamison Crowder (large field), Brian Robinson Jr.

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Demario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Hunter Henry, Rhamondre Stevenson

Lineup Notes: Merely a week after throwing for 397 yards and four touchdowns against the Eagles, Sam Howell is getting no respect against the Patriots with New England landing as minor favorites in Vegas. This game has a 41-point total and a 3-point spread in New England, but we prefer the Washington side. Howell had a three-touchdown game in Week 6, he threw for 388 yards and two touchdowns in Week 5 against Chicago, and he has truly only been lousy once, a four-interception disaster against Buffalo in Week 3 that doubles his season-long interception total. Howell has good options in Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, as well as tight end Logan Thomas. Curtis Samuel is out for Week 9, but his role should be filled by Jamison Crowder with Dyami Brown acting as a downfield dart throw.

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